Tue, Jul 18, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Indonesia renames part of South China Sea


Indonesian President Joko Widodo, third right, accompanied from left to right by Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ade Supandi, Minister of Security Luhut Panjaitan, Armed Forces Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo and Riau Islands Governor Nurdin Basirun on the deck of navy warship KRI Imam Bonjol off Indonesia’s Natuna Islands on June 23 last year.

Photo: AP

Indonesia has named waters in its exclusive economic zone that overlap with China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea in an assertion of sovereignty that has angered Beijing.

The decision announced on Friday by the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs has been in the works since the middle of last year and is vital to law enforcement at sea and securing Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, Indonesian Deputy Minister for Maritime Sovereignty Arif Havas Oegroseno said.

He said the name would reduce confusion and is already used by the oil and gas industry.

A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said at a regular news briefing that the “so-called change of name makes no sense.”

“We hope the relevant countries can work with China for the shared goal and jointly uphold the current hard-won sound situation in the South China Sea,” he said.

China claims most of the South China Sea, putting it in dispute with many Southeast Asian nations, including Taiwan, and has carried out extensive land reclamation and construction on reefs and atolls to bolster its claims.

Indonesia does not have a territorial dispute with China, but Beijing’s “nine-dash line,” which signifies its claims, overlaps with Indonesia’s internationally recognized exclusive economic zone extending from the Natuna Islands.

“The map of Indonesia has clear coordinates, dates and data, and the government would not negotiate with other nations that make unconventional claims ... including those who insist on a map of nine broken lines,” Oegroseno said.

Meanwhile, Philippine officials behind an arbitration case in which the Philippines won a resounding victory over China last year are expressing alarm that Beijing continues to defy the decision, in what they are calling a setback to the rule of law.

Last week, they urged Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has indefinitely set aside the decision that invalidated China’s sweeping historic claims in the South China Sea, to explore diplomatic and legal means by which to pressure China into complying.

Duterte has promised to take up the arbitration ruling with China, but is also courting China as an economic partner and ally.

“Despite its friendlier face, we do not see restraint in China’s militarization and unlawful activity in the West Philippine Sea,” the former Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs said.

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